REVIEW: BEYOND SKYLINE (2017)

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BEYOND SKYLINE (2017)

2010’s Skyline was an awful alien invasion flick that centered around a bunch of boring characters in a condo dealing with an extraterrestrial incursion. Despite bad reviews, it still made a lot of money on a meager budget. Considering this, it’s actually surprising the flick took seven years to get a sequel. Follow-up takes place during the same event, but focuses on recently widowed cop, Mark Corley (Frank Grillo) and his troubled son, Trent (Jonny Weston). Along with other captives on an alien ship, Corley and son fight to escape. The plot then takes us on a goofy journey of stolen brains, rebellious robots, Asian outlaws, genetically altered babies and human resistance fighters…still with me?

Sequel is written and directed by Liam O’Donnell, who co-wrote the original, and it is a bit of an improvement. Original filmmakers Colin and Greg Strause, return to produce and let O’Donnell turn this into more of a straight-up action flick, with a solid and gory R rating, as opposed to the original’s PG-13. Unfortunately, the first time director also gets a bit over-indulgent with a very busy and silly script which finds the aliens harvesting human brains to control their machines and altering the DNA of human babies to accelerate their growth. We know this by running into pregnant Elaine (now Samantha Jean) and her boyfriend Jarrod (Tony Black) from the first movie, Jarrod, who’s brain is now in an alien drone. It is Jarrod that rebels and helps Corley by crashing the ship, turning the second half of the movie into a thriller about fighting back, when the survivors hit the ground running in what looks like Indonesia. This is where the Asian outlaws and human resistance fighters come in. It’s all very kooky and cliché, though at least O’Donnell takes the silly material seriously and doesn’t make a joke out of it. The action is fun and the FX are very good.

Adding Frank Grillo to this flick helps. Grillo is a solid leading man/action hero and takes the goofball script seriously and this helps us enjoy some of the more scatterbrained stuff. We also get The Hallow’s Bojana Novakovic as an LA subway driver, literally along for the ride, and she’s fine. There is also Antonio Fargas as a homeless, ex-soldier and Iko Uwais and Pamelyn Chee as outlaw siblings Sua and Kanya. Grillo is the strength here, but the rest of the cast do well enough.

Certainly more fun than the dull original, but also a lot goofier and with a far more convoluted and cliché plot. We get a lot of action, which includes spurting blood, some martial arts and even a Godzilla-esque giant monster battle. O’Donnell seems to be a bit better director than the Strauses, but is very overindulgent with his script. Grillo helps by doing a good job as it’s hero and the production value/ SPFX are quite solid. Ridiculous, but at least, not boring and there are also some fun bloopers during the end credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 angry aliens.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE HALLOW (2015)

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THE HALLOW (2015)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Story finds British tree doctor Adam Hitchens (Game Of Thrones‘ Joseph Mawle) moving into a remote Irish house to examine the trees of the local forest which is being sold to a logging company. As he settles in with his wife, Claire (Bojana Novakovic) and their infant son, strange things start to happen. The locals claim he is trespassing on the land of “The Hallow”, fey creatures that live in those woods and who will not be happy about his intrusion. Whether it be superstitious locals or creatures of legend, something is stalking the Hitchens family for some malevolent purpose.

Spooky flick is atmospherically directed by Corin Hardy from a script by Hardy and Felipe Marino. The director has a nice visual eye and gives his horror a strong style, as well as, a sense of foreboding. We know early on the Hitchens family has disturbed something primeval and we only get glimpses of these fairie creatures here and there, just enough to let us know that something unearthly is out and about. Once the story reaches the point of outright confrontation with the forest dwellers, we get some really cool and well rendered prosthetic creatures and a tense cat and mouse chase with our beleaguered family. There is some interesting side effects of contact with these creatures and it adds to the spookiness of the film that one family member maybe changing into something out of a nightmare, while being pursued by these creatures of the night. It’s not an outright scary flick, but it is a fun monster movie with some really nice prosthetic effects and a touching nod to Stan Winston in the credits that adds a sentimental charm to their use. It’s obvious to pick out elements from various horrors that have inspired Hardy, but he pays homage to them well and these elements blend effectively in this dark fairy tale-like story.

While there are some local supporting characters, who are creepy in themselves, it’s basically all Mawle and Novakovic. Joseph Mawle does a solid job as the scientist who, obviously, thinks all this talk of dangerous fairy creatures is hokum…until they are staring him in the face. He rises to the occasion to battle these things and adds a touch of nobility when he falls under their influence. Bojana Novakovic portrays a gutsy and strong woman and mother, who fights tooth and nail against these creatures of legend and gives us a character to get behind and root for. They also have a nice chemistry together and they are very believable as a couple.

Overall, this is an entertaining monster flick with definite influences from other horror classics that blends them into an entertaining dark fantasy. There are some very spooky sequences, interestingly designed creatures and some intense action, with some delightfully in-camera rendered SPFX. The beautiful cinematography by Martijn Van Broekhuizen only enhances Corin Hardy’s visual style and James Gosling’s music adds to the already atmospheric flick. Maybe not an outright scary movie, but an entertaining horror and an indication that good things might be coming from Corin Hardy.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 very unwelcome tree doctors.
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